The Longbox Short-List - Week of March 15, 2017

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of or its management.

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Batwoman 1

Welcome back to Critical Blast’s weekly look at what new comics you should check out each week.   Just a warning, I make these picks pretty much a week BEFORE I actually get to read any of these comics, so if something is a stinker, I take no blame on that.  Let's get to it!

Comics shipping this week

  • VAMPIRELLA #1 - I have to be honest, I didn't particularly love VAMPIRELLA #0. I do think there is a some merit in telling a Vampirella story set in the far future, but I really loved the terrific serialized stories Nancy Collins had been doing way back in Dynamite's second VAMPIRELLA series. Even the third series set in Hollywood had a lot of cool ideas. Stripping away her supporting cast feels like throwing away everything I have come to love about the character in recent years.
  • MONSTERS UNLEASHED #5 - Nice to see a Marvel event that doesn't take itself so seriously. After INHUMANS VS X-MEN and CIVIL WAR, I really needed this. Not saying it is all that "must read" but it's still one of the more fun events Marvel has done in recent memory. I actually find myself looking forward to seeing how this one ends.

  • BATWOMAN #1 - The first issue was a little recap heavy, but I really like BATWOMAN and have been looking forward to this series for a while now. I like seeing her integrated better into the Batfamily and I suspect you will see a lot of spill over from the events in DETECTIVE COMICS.

  • PUNISHER #10 - I keep saying this, but I am really surprised how much I have enjoyed this PUNISHER series. I used to love PUNISHER as a kid, but for a while I thought I had outgrown the character. Becky Cloonan has really revitalized my love for PUNISHER, and I hope she's on this book for a long time.

  • SUPER SONS #2 - Another new DC book I have been curious about for a long time. I thought the time jumps in the beginning of the first issue were unnecessary, but on a whole it was a real solid first issue. Damian Wayne and Jon Kent are a great dynamic duo.

  • SUPERMAN #19 - Definitely was not expecting the revelation of the identity of "other" Clark Kent. I have no idea how that all fits together, but since the Superman books have been so good, I am willing to give DC the benefit of the doubt before criticizing this too heavily.

  • UNCLE SCROOGE #24 - I have really been enjoying IDW's Disney line. And now that they are finally available digitally, it makes it so much easier for me to keep up. With a new DUCK TALES animated series starting soon, this is a great time to check out UNCLE SCROOGE. MICKEY MOUSE and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES also comes out this week.

  • HIGHLANDER: THE AMERICAN DREAM #2 - Wasn't quite sure what to expect from the first issue of this one. HIGHLANDER has been more miss than hit over the years. But HIGHLANDER: THE AMERICAN DREAM feels much more in line with the original movie, and the result was a really solid HIGHLANDER story. For a long suffering HIGHLANDER fan, this series was a real relief.

  • I HATE FAIRYLAND #11 and INJECTION #11 - I wasn't expecting more stories of these two terrific Image series. Both had been gone for a while now. I like that Image isn't afraid of putting series on hold between arcs until the creators can devote the time and energy to produce strong arcs. AUTUMNLANDS follows a similar pattern, and the result is much better comics without a lot of filler.

  • Archie #18
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #13
  • Batman #19
  • Green Arrow #19
  • Green Lanterns #19
  • Nightwing #17
  • Titans #9
  • Trinity #7
  • Wild Storm #2
  • G.I. JOE #3
  • M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand Annual #1
  • Revolutionaries #3
  • Invincible #134
  • Spawn #271
  • Amazing Spider-Man #25
  • Captain America Sam Wilson #20
  • Daredevil #18
  • Great Lakes Avengers #6
  • Mighty Thor #17
  • Ms. Marvel #16
  • Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #16
  • Spider-Man #14
  • Star Wars Poe Dameron #12
  • Totally Awesome Hulk #17
  • U.S.Avengers #4
  • Uncanny Avengers #21
  • Uncanny X-Men #19
  • Divinity III Escape From Gulag 396 #1

In Case You Missed Them

Here are some noteworthy books from last week…


Book of the Week: ASTRO CITY #42 by Kurt Busiek, Matthew Clark, and Sean Parsons

Summary: 30 years ago, a villain named Mister Manta ended up stranded on a desert island after a battle with Mermaid.  He has built a pretty nice life for himself, but still longs to return home.  One day, he hears a Mayday on a radio he built for himself.  It’s a cruise ship.  He realizes that the ship has to be pretty close, so he uses the tech he managed to salvage together to try and reach the ship.  

The ship is being attacked by pirates,  led by a man named Skinner Bones.  Mister Manta feels offended by how lame these villains are, and ends up going after the pirates.  Mermaid arrives, recognizing Manta.  She thanks him for his heroics and says that he can return to Astro City a free man, since the statute of limitations on his crimes has long past.  Mister Manta feels overwhelmed by all the noise and people, and decides to head back to his island.

Review: This wasn’t the issue promised in the solicits, which said we would finally get the story of The Gentleman.  But this is pretty much my favorite type of ASTRO CITY story.  I love the simple done-in-one stories that focus in on one character, especially villains.  This isn’t a particularly complicated comic story, but it was just a real fun read.  It really represents everything I love about ASTRO CITY.

Score (out of 5): 5

ACTION COMICS #975 by Dan Jurgens and Doug Mahnke

Summary: Superman and Lois head to Clark Kent’s apartment in Metropolis in search of their son and some answers.  They find the cabinets and refrigerator stocked with junk food “like a six year old does all the shopping.”  Clark arrives.  Superman demands he return Jon to them. Clark insists that Superman “let him down.” Superman tells Clark stop playing games and tell him who he really is.  

Clark teases that he might be Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Brainiac, Mongul, Parasite, Cyborg Superman, or Doomsday.  Superman and Lois both realize that he’s Mr Mxyzptlk.  Mr Mxyzptlk says that no one will remember Jon Kent ever again.  The issue ends with Lois having forgotten her own son.

We also get a backup story by Paul Dini and Ian Churchill with Mr Mxyzptlk telling his story to Jon Kent.  Ozy had captured Mr Mxyzptlk, and Mr Mxyzptlk was pissed that Superman didn’t seem to even realize he had gone missing.  Mr Mxyzptlk was able to escape, but now he wants revenge for Superman’s abandonment.

Review: It’s always tricky when you have a long running mystery story in a comic story.  The reader builds it up so much in their own mind, that the reveal in the end is pretty much always at least a little disappointing.  I have read this comic a few times now, because it is a very good issue.  But I still am not sure how I feel about Mr Mxyzptlk being the answer to “Who is this extra Clark Kent?”  

That said, the Superman books have been very good, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I am also real curious how this fits in the bigger story going on around DC Rebirth.  This is Pre-Flashpoint Mr Mxyzptlk so that puts another anomaly in New 52 universe.  Things are building up bigger all the time, and I think DC is putting together a real masterpiece here.

I also loved the various art styles used in the backup story to show the different eras of Superman and Mr Mxyzptlk.  I thought that was a real nice touch.  That attention to detail always makes a comic extra special for me.

Score (out of 5): 4.5

INHUMANS VS X-MEN #5 by Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule, and Leinil Francis Yu

Summary: As the X-Men and Inhumans are facing off, some of the younger Inhumans (including Medusa’s son) explain to Medusa that the mutants are fighting for survival.  The Terrigen clouds are about to make the world uninhabitable for mutantkind. Medusa decides that it is in everyone’s best interest to destroy the Terrigen cloud.

But Emma Frost is determined to wipe out the Inhumans anyway.  She uses telepathy to take control of some of the more powerful Inhumans.  She had also apparently been using mind control on Forge to have him build Inhuman-killing Sentinels.  The Sentinels start to kill Inhumans, so the X-Men and Inhumans team up to stop them. Cerebra is killed in the chaos.  Emma uses her telepathy on Magneto to turn him against the others too.  

Johnny Storm and the Inhuman leaders work with the X-Men to rally everyone together.  Magneto is about to take out Emma, when Havok blasts him from behind.  He teleports away with Emma saying “I am doing this for Scott.”

In the epilogue,  Emma is on the run from X-Men and Inhumans alike.  Medusa decides to step down as queen, and elections are being held for the first time in 200 hundred centuries.  The issue ends with Medusa and Black Bolt dressed as civilians in Bolt’s nightclub.

Review: I actually thought this was one of Marvel’s better crossovers.  BUT, it seemed a little ridiculous that it all came down to “Tell Medusa what is going on...and she will fix it immediately.”  Seems like we could have avoided a lot of hassle if the X-Men had just done this all up front.

And in the end, Emma ends up becoming a big bad evil villain for no real reason.  Black Bolt didn’t even kill Cyclops, which is revealed to everyone in this issue (the reader and EMMA HERSELF had known it for a while).  

I am glad that we got a new status quo for the X-Men, but like most Marvel events, this comes down to heroes fighting heroes for no real reason, and everyone winning by coming together and saying Kumbaya.  Not have a bad comic by any stretch of the imagination, but it could have been better if they didn’t have to further character assassinate Cyclops and Emma Frost.  Hopefully we will not see Emma Frost again for a long time...

Score (out of 5): 3

MAN-THING #1 by RL Stine and German Peralta

Summary: Man-Thing has worked hard to turn himself from mindless brute to someone who can think and speak.  He has gone to Hollywood to try and become a star in monster movies.  But test audiences find him just a little too disturbing.

Later, as Man-Thing is walking through the streets of Hollywood, he encounters his old mindless self.  They start to fight, and that is where the issue ends.

We also get a backup by RL Stine and Daniel Johnson very much in the vein of an old horror comic.   A shifty guy marries a woman to get access to her magical ring.  She warns him that the ring can make someone’s life better or worse.  He ends up killing her and taking the ring.  But the next morning, he finds that the ring has made all his fingers vanish so he can’t use the ring anyway.

Review: First off, I absolutely loved the back-up story!  It was very much like something out of old school VAMPIRELLA or TALES FROM THE CRYPT.  I love those stories, and it was great to see RL STINE take them on.

I grew up loving RL Stine’s horror books, so I was really looking forward to his take on Man-Thing.  I wasn’t quite expecting what we got here, with Man-Thing looking to start a new life in Hollywood.  But it ended up being a very fun comic to read.  My only real complaint about this one is that they might have spent a little too much time recapping Man-Thing’s past, especially since the main story was shortened to make room for the back-up.  But now that is out of the way, this story should be able to pick up real quickly.  Iefinitely want to know why we have two Man-Things running around!

Score (out of 5): 3.5

NANCY DREW AND THE HARDY BOYS: THE BIG LIE #1 by Anthony Del Col and Werther Dell’ Edera

Summary: The city of Bayport has been rocked by the death of Fenton Hardy.  His two sons Joe and Frank have been accused of killing him.  Evidence suggests Fenton was a corrupt cop, and his sons were embarrassed by him which is why they killed him. The night of his death, both sons went to a party, and they seemed to get in a pretty nasty fight with each other.

Both boys hold up under interrogation.  They had gone to that party at the request of a mysterious informant they call “Little Birdie.”  After they get out of the police station, they meet up with her again, and it’s revealed this is all part of a plan to find the real killer.  Little Birdie is Nancy Drew,

Review: I liked how this comic played with the tropes of an old school Hardy Boys book.  Bayport has some dark secrets brewing beneath the surface.  Frank and Joe might not be the good boys everyone thinks they are.  Nancy Drew is a secret informant.  At first glance, I was reminded of RIVERDALE, but this tilts a little more towards noir than overdone teen drama.  

Most of this issue was just setup, but it definitely grabbed my attention as a reader.  Hopefully Dynamite can keep up the momentum here.  I would love ongoing HARDY BOYS and NANCY DREW books in this spirit.

Score (out of 5): 4